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Teenage Student Pioneers New Form of Storage Encryption

Modern data storages are at greater risk of cyber-attacks than ever before. Although many companies, governmental entities and even private consumers have begun embracing encryption as a way of safeguarding their sensitive info from the eyes of next-gen criminals, current encryption methods aren't exactly perfect. However, given a recent breakthrough by a 16-year-old student in Dublin, the state of computer security may have just received its next upgrade.

The BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, with roots dating back to the 1960s, distributes more than 140 awards on an annual basis. The 2017 competition, which was recently wrapped up, includes contributions from nearly 5,000 students from 375 different schools around the globe. Out of all the entries, Shane Curran from Terenure College was awarded the top prize for his project in encryption.

Enter qCrypt

The project, named qCrypt, is a distributed data storage framework that use highly advanced encryption algorithms. In theory, these algorithms can even protect against attacks from the upcoming generation of quantum supercomputers.

It works by splitting up data through a process known as sharding. The data is then stored in multiple locations, or jurisdictions, of the hard drive. The data therein cannot be decrypted by any means short of using the related encryption key system, which was also developed by the 16-year-old.

John Dunnion, contest judge, described the usefulness and potential impact of qCrypt by saying: "It addresses a number of shortfalls of current data encryption systems; in particular, the algorithm used in the system has been demonstrated to be resistant to attacks by quantum computers in the future. As part of the qCrypt project, an entire software platform with an intuitive user interface has been developed."

According to reports, Curran spent six months researching his project and an additional four or five in the development phase of qCrypt. Considering the initial functionality of the software, as well as the age and inexperience of Curran himself, this is a rather short amount of time to conceptualize and finish such a solution.

It might go without saying, but winning a contest of this scope and magnitude has a lot to offer Shane Curran and his qCrypt solution. He has even been invited to represent his home country of Ireland in the European Union Contest for Young Scientists, which is set to take place in Estonia later this year.

When asked about his own plans for the future, Curran responded to a NewsTalk reporter by saying: " If it's possible to simultaneously have something which is useful to the world as a whole as well as producing a decent revenue stream, then that would fantastic. I'm not completely motivated by money but it would be great to have a tool that would be useful to millions or even billions of people over the next while — and that's something to aspire to."

For more information on the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, including details on qCrypt or any of the other award-winning products and personalities, please visit their official website at www.btyoungscientist.com.

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